One foot on the step is all it takes to change a life
while the other lingers in warm ochre dust.
A foot on the step presses stone-chill knowledge
from sole to knee in Chinese whispers.
That’s all it takes to the Great Below.
Neither cashmere shawl nor lapis beads
retain your dignity, memories of a lover’s kiss
on the mezzanine cannot warm you,
a chorus of adulation will not
help you face this one down.
Did I say face? Nothing prepares you
for the icy blast of meeting your other half.
Obsidian eyes cut an ego to shreds.
Less than a maggot on the flyblown arse
of a decaying donkey, all you can do is rot
and pray for release.
At last your heart opens to love
the unforgiving bitch of envy and rejection
who you once banished after all
until she reclaimed you,
so you crawl back up to the light
thankful only for the grace of breath,
your eyes deeper by three miles.
Now you are fit, she whispers,
to call yourself Queen.
*(from the author’s collection She Who Walks with Stones and Sings (PSAvalon 2005))
Rachael Clyne lives in Glastonbury. Her new collection, Singing at the Bone Tree, concerns our search for the wild self and won Indigo Dreams’, George Stevens Memorial Prize 2013. Rachael belongs to both local groups and the online poetry group, 52 Anthologies: Book of Love and Loss, The Listening Walk. Magazines: Poetry Space, Stare’s Nest, Interpreters House, Domestic Cherry. Collections: She Who Walks with Stones and Sings. www.rachaelclyne.com